August 19, 2022

Homily Two on the Dormition of the Theotokos (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

(Delivered in 1981)

We all have joy because today is the real Mother's Day. Only the Lady Theotokos is our true mother, because she transmits to us our true Life, which is our Christ. And today all mothers should celebrate Mother's Day in an Orthodox manner, because every mother is recognized as a mother only if she aspires to be like and if she receives the blessing and grace of the Mother of God, the Most Holy Theotokos.

But the world with the worldly spirit, with secularization, which advances and erodes the soul and the heart and the mind of our people, has begun to artificially replace the feasts of Orthodoxy with secular holidays, such as the Mother's Day, Children's Day and others like it, such as birthdays, which people celebrate, while we should celebrate the memories of the Saints, whose names we bear. And all this is an attempt to alter the God-anthropocentric mindset of our people, and for our people to become anthropocentric and not have Christ as the center of their lives. Not to live an ecclesiastical life, but to live a life far from the Church and from our God-man Christ.

So today is Mother's Day, our Mother's Day. And for that we have joy. Everything that happens to our Panagia happens for all of us and that's why joy is ours. The Panagia obeyed God. Perfect obedience. Eve the Foremother disobeyed and deprived the human race of the blessing of communion with God, of union with God, of the blessed life of Paradise. Our Panagia corrected Eve's mistake and obeyed God perfectly. And when she obeyed God perfectly and loved God completely and gave herself to God completely, this great Mystery could only happen in her. A simple and humble woman of the Israelite people, a village girl, an illiterate woman, could not help but attract God and for God to dwell in her and become the "Containment of the Uncontainable".

Thus our Panagia showed us the way of obedience to God and on behalf of all of us she did what Adam and Eve did not do: she offered God her freedom. Because God wants to be united with man, He wants to dwell in man. But God cannot dwell in man, if man does not offer himself completely to God, if he does not offer him his freedom, his will, his entire being. Our Panagia offered herself. She said yes to God.

God wanted to come to earth, because he loved man, but He was waiting for a creature to be found who would answer the question posed by Heaven: "Do you want me to come to earth? Do you want me to become human?" God was waiting to find someone who would say "yes" to God with their whole being, with their whole heart, completely. And that person who said "yes" to God was our Panagia. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). And when she said this "yes", God came to earth, came into the womb of the Most Holy Theotokos, became flesh and became a man.

And we today, because our Panagia offered her freedom to God, said "yes", we have a Savior and a Redeemer, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Despot Christ, who raised us from the grave of sin, from Hades, from eternal death, and has given us eternal life. And today we are not the hopeless mortals, as we would have been before Christ, the slaves of the devil and death, the hopeless slaves, but we are the beautiful children of the Church, the sons of the Resurrection, the beloved children of God, heirs of eternal life and blessedness. All these good things came into the world through the Lady Theotokos, our Mother.

That is why today we are grateful to her, we thank her. Today and always we venerate her, we glorify her. "Especially our All-Hoy, Immaculate, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary". That is why our Orthodox people, the faithful, have such great reverence for the Most Holy Theotokos. Because they know that without her we would not have Christ. Because they know that she represents us. She represents the human race before the throne of divine Majesty.

Just as all the mysteries of the Theotokos were mysteries of complete love, complete offering, complete obedience, complete freedom, offering her freedom to God, so was the blessedness and reverence of the Dormition, "her final mystery", as the troparion says. This was the last earthly mystery of the Panagia, but it was also a mystery of love, freedom and obedience.

As she was offered as a three-year-old child – her parents offered her in Solomon's Temple, to serve in the Holy of Holies – and she was offered with all her heart and will, as when she offered herself on the day of the Annunciation after the archangel's message that she would be the Mother of the Despot Christ, even now when the time had come for her, as a mortal woman that she was, to leave this world, she again offered herself to God with trust.

She offered with trust her blessed soul to the Despot Christ, who came to receive her, but she also offered with trust her body, the most-immaculate and most-pure, that thrice-glorious body, which gave Body to the Son of God, that flesh by which she incarnated God. She also offered this with trust in God, to enter the earth, without fear of the dark mystery of death, without fear of the soil that would cover her, because she had great trust in God's love.

And when one thus offers himself to God, with perfect trust, God does not let his creature perish, but God also offers everything to man. That is why the soul of the Lady Theotokos, the bright and all-illuminating one, was received by her only-begotten Son, our Lord, and her body, this blessed and holy and eternal body - which was not possible, since it was thus offered to God with perfect freedom and obedience and love, to become the prey of worms - by the Grace of the Holy Spirit and the decree and design of the Holy Trinity on the third day was resurrected and transported to the Heavens and is glorified together with her blessed soul and redeemed unto the ages.

And so our Panagia "presides", as the Theologians of our Church say, "over the saved". She is the head of the whole Church. As Mariam, the sister of Moses, presided over the dance of those freed from the Egyptians and glorified God with drum and dance after the exodus from the Red Sea, so now the Lady Theotokos, the true Mariam of the human race, presides over the dance of the saved and redeemed and sings a new ode before the throne of the Lamb throughout the ages.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.